Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing his time with me tonight.
No government in Canada's history has done as much for the north as ours. From regulatory improvement to safeguarding Arctic sovereignty, our Conservative government has stood by northerners. Bill S-6 is just the latest measure we have taken to ensure the true north remains strong and free. By driving economic development and encouraging jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, Bill S-6 would make sure that Yukon and Nunavut remain attractive places to live, work and invest long term.
Bill S-6 is only the most recent endeavour in our government's plan to improve the northern regulatory regimes. Like all the legislation passed to date under the action plan to improve northern regulatory regimes, Bill S-6 is designed to increase efficiency, clarity and certainty respecting the regulatory processes. At the same time, the act would strengthen environmental protection and enhance consultations with aboriginal people, reaffirming them in their role in this regulatory process.
Let me cite just a few examples to illustrate how Bill S-6 would achieve these objectives. I will start by noting that the act would implement the principle of one project, one assessment. Under the current version of the YESEAA all kinds of small, routine modifications to projects get caught up in time-consuming and costly reassessment processes.
During meetings held this fall by the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, senators heard complaints about this from numerous companies and industry associations. I would like to quote David Morrison, president and CEO of Yukon Energy Corporation from September 25, 2014. He said:
You might get a two-month delay in an assessment process that costs you a year from a construction point of view, because you have missed the construction window. Those things really add up. They add up significantly.
For years there have been calls for a less duplicative and cumbersome review process to evaluate these projects, one that encourages development while also ensuring sound environmental stewardship. This is exactly what Bill S-6 would do.
Consistent with other northern environmental legislation, the act would lead to more predictable and timely reviews, in part due to less duplication and reduce regulatory burden. Going forward, there would be no need for a reassessment, for renewal or modification to a project unless the decision body, or bodies, determine the project has undergone significant change from what was originally assessed.
By retaining the integrity of the initial environmental assessment, but reducing unnecessary duplication, we are protecting the northern environment without resorting to drastic measures, like the job-killing carbon tax the Liberals and NDP favour.
Another example is, Clynton Nauman, president and CEO, Alexco Resource Corp. also told the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, on September 30, 2014, that work was needed to ensure Yukon remains competitive with respect to investment in resource development. He said:
The current uncertainty has had a negative impact on our ability to efficiently plan and operate our business, and by extension, it impairs the competitiveness of Yukon as a jurisdiction to assert certainty in the mine development and production process.
The Fraser Institute's 2014 survey of mining companies confirms this. Since 2011-12, Yukon has fallen from being ranked as the most desirable jurisdiction in the world for mining corporations to invest in, to the ninth. Our government and Yukoners like Clynton Nauman know it is important for Yukon to return to this impressive standing. The measures contained in Bill S-6 would help Yukon regain its previous success.
These measures are essential for the people of Yukon to realize the territory's full potential. It would also meet the needs of investors, developers and employers by providing a clear and predictable assessment process that would allow Yukon to remain competitive in a global marketplace.
As I mentioned earlier, to avoid duplication with respect to environmental assessments in the Yukon, Bill S6 would eliminate the need to reapply for water licences in Nunavut, unless there is a substantive change in the nature of the project. Substantive changes are modifications like diverting the course of a stream, increasing the size or changing the location of a tailings pond, or a large increase in the use of water. Again, similar to the YESEAA amendments found in Bill S-6, this provision would protect the environment without implementing a costly job-killing carbon tax.
Another way Bill S-6 would address the regulatory burden is by providing an extension to the terms of board members under YESAA. This was one of the jointly agreed upon recommendations in a five-year review of YESAA by the Council of Yukon First Nations, the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, the Government of Yukon, and the Government of Canada. This will increase predictability and certainty by ensuring that the assessment continues to function smoothly, even as its members transition onto the board.
A further example of how Bill S-6 would reduce duplication is evident in Nunavut. I am referring to amendments related to security arrangements to rectify the situation known as over bonding. Let me first explain briefly what this means and how it relates to posting securities. Securities are monies companies set aside to ensure that at the end of a development project, there are adequate funds to remediate the impact of any project on the surrounding environment. Under the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, securities for future remediation of resource development projects that use or impact the water in any way are paid or posted by companies. This money is held in trust by the federal government until the end of that project.
Where a project is wholly or partially on Inuit-owned land, the regional Inuit association can request that additional security be posted for the part of the development on its lands. In some cases, this has resulted in over bonding, meaning that a company is required to provide more security than would be required to remediate a project at its completion. This is a significant disincentive to development and places an undue burden on proponents.
Proposed amendments in Bill S-6 would allow the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to enter into agreements with Inuit landowners and proponents. These agreements would recommend the amount of security to be posted on a project situated partially or wholly on lnuit-owned land. When the Nunavut Water Board determined the amount of security required to be furnished by the proponent, it would have to take these agreements into consideration. The introduction of security arrangements to address over bonding would help unlock the economic potential of Nunavut by removing a disincentive to investment while ensuring sound environmental stewardship.
Because Bill S-6 would reduce regulatory duplication and the burden on Yukon and Nunavut, it is little wonder that Bill S-6 has earned widespread support among industry groups and northern governments. From the Yukon Chamber of Mines in the west to the NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines in the east, from the Government of Nunavut to the Government of Yukon, we have heard both praise and calls to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.
We want northerners to have the ability to drive economic development in the north. Passing this bill would create jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for the north. This is why I strongly urge all parties to heed this advice and vote with us to move this legislation forward.